UK Backs India's NSG Bid; Offers 'Firm Support'

17/06/2016 9:47 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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India's nuclear-capable Agni III missile rolls past during the final full dress rehearsal for the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 23, 2010. India will celebrate its 61st Republic Day on January 26 with a large military parade. AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN (Photo credit should read RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

British Premier David Cameron has assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the UK's "firm support" for India's NSG membership bid, a boost to the country ahead of the nuclear trading club's crucial meeting next week.

Cameron confirmed Britain's backing for India's membership of the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in a telephone call to Modi on Thursday.

A Downing Street spokesperson said, "The Prime Minister spoke to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about India's application for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a group of nuclear supplier countries that works together to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons."

"The Prime Minister confirmed that the UK would firmly support India's application. They agreed that in order for the bid to be successful it would be important for India to continue to strengthen its non-proliferation credentials, including by reinforcing the separation between civil and military nuclear activity," the spokesperson said.

The two leaders also took stock of UK-India ties in their telephonic conversation.

"They agreed that the UK-India relationship was going from strength to strength, including through the recent visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and wife Kate)," the spokesperson said.

India's case for NSG membership is also being strongly pushed by the US, which has written to other members to support India's bid at the plenary meeting of the group expected to be held in Seoul on June 24.

While majority of the elite group backed India's membership, China along with New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria were opposed to India's admission.

China maintains opposition to India's entry, arguing that it has not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

China wants NSG membership for its close ally Pakistan if NSG extends any exemption for India.

India has asserted that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG as there has been a precedent in this regard, citing the case of France.

The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership of the grouping will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector.

India has been reaching out to NSG member countries seeking support for its entry. The NSG works under the principle of consensus and even one country's vote against India will scuttle its bid.

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